As I’ve been writing for this blog over the past several months I’ve received a lot of questions from those who are new to social media marketing. I know there is a wide range of experience among the readers, so this post is aimed at those who are just getting their feet wet.
1 – Have a Purpose
What do you want to get out of social media? Do you want to use it to find interesting content? Do you want to build a power profile? Do you want to be an active user of social media in order to gain exposure for you website or blog? Many social media marketers don’t give enough thought to their purpose. They start using social media hoping for big results, but without a solid purpose. Social media can be a huge time-waster if you do not have a clear purpose of what you want to get out of it.
2 – Choose an Audience
If you are looking to market your website or blog, this audience should match up as closely as possible to the audience of your website. Most website owners and bloggers are drawn to social media marketing because of the quantity of visitors that it can bring, but not necessarily because of the quality of visitors. By identifying the right audience you can drastically increase the quality.
3 – Identify Specific Sites to Use/Target
A common mistake that bloggers tend to make is failing to identify the specific social media sites that they want to target. There are a few problems with not targeting specific sites. First, without a specific approach you have no control over which audience (see previous point) is going to see your content. Second, your results may be disappointing because of a lack of focus. We’ve all seen blogs that have voting buttons and widgets for every imaginable social media site cluttering up the page. With too many options you will be diluting the results of all of them. If you want to target 1 or 2 social media sites you can include those voting buttons and they will have a bigger impact.
When identifying specific sites that you want to target, keep in mind the difference between general news sites and niche social media sites. Niche sites often get overlooked, but they can be an excellent source of targeted visitors. You’ll also want to consider the audience size, reach, how difficult it is to become “popular,” and if the particular site allows you to submit your own content (if you want to submit your own).
4 – Sign Up
Once you have found the sites that you want to target, you’ll obviously want to start an account. Although I feel that it’s important not to try to target too many sites at one time, it’s ok to have accounts at a number of different sites, you’ll just be more active at some than at others.
5 – Be Active Every Day
In order to be effective as a social media marketer, you’ll also need to be an active user. As a user you will learn more about the audience, what they like and what they don’t like. You’ll also build a stronger profile and you’ll be able to network with other users.
Take some time each day to visit the sites you are targeting, vote for content that you like, submit relevant content, leave comments, and network with other users. Most social media sites also offer RSS feeds. You may want to subscribe to the feed to stay up-to-date with the popular topics.